Foodbank crisis at volunteer bureau

Eastwood volunteer bureau food bank. Susan Bagshaw and Ken Woodhead.
Eastwood volunteer bureau food bank. Susan Bagshaw and Ken Woodhead.

The number of families in Eastwood who cannot afford to eat has increased four-fold over the last year and an urgent call is being made for people to help.

About ten people a week used to collect bags of food from the bank at the Eastwood Volunteer Bureau – but this has now soared to 40 a week over the last year.

Staff and volunteers at the bureau in Wellington Place are now pleading with local folk to help out before stocks dry up altogether and say they are ‘desperate’.

Manager Sue Bagshaw said the charity foodbank has been operating for three years, but the number of people using the service has recently ‘ballooned’ due to unemployment and benefit cuts.

“It’s because people are on so much less money,” she said.

“More people are on benefits, which the Government has reduced. Some people get £50 or £60 a week. How can you manage on that?

“We need a lot more coming in to it. The service is really stretched. If we get many more people we are just jot going to have the food to give them.

“We are desperate,” she said.

Ken Woodhead is on the committee at the bureau and echoed what Mrs Bagshaw said.

“It’s the economic climate at the minute. People are really struggling.

“People are feeding their kids and struggling to feed themselves. And I think the problem is probably worse than we think because I think a lot of people are too proud to ask for help.

“It takes a lot for someone to walk through those doors and say ‘can I have a food parcel?’ It’s not nice to have to do that in this day and age.”

Local churches currently donate to the foodbank, but the service has very little donations from members of the public.

Warburtons donate 40 loaves of bread a week, and Greggs also donates bread products.

Mrs Bagshaw is appealing for people to donate any foods that will not go off, such as tins, pasta cereals and long life milk.

People who are on benefits of less than £110 a week qualify for the food parcels.

Proof of benefits in needed on arrival at the volunteer bureau.